Multi-wavelength time-resolved observations of rotationally modulated variability from brown dwarfs and giant exoplanets are the most effective method for constraining their heterogeneous atmospheric structures. In a companion paper (Bowler et al. 2020), we reported the discovery of strong near-infrared variability in HST/WFC3/G141 light curves of the very red L-dwarf companion VHS J1256-1257b. In this paper, we present a follow-up 36-hr Spitzer/IRAC Channel 2 light curve together with an in-depth analysis of the HST and the Spitzer data. The combined dataset provides time-resolved light curves of VHS1256b sampling 1.1 to 4.5 μm. The Spitzer light curve is best-fit with a single sine wave with a period of 22.04 ± 0.05 hr and a peak-to-peak amplitude of 5.76 ± 0.04%. Combining the period with a previously measured projected rotational velocity (v sin i), we find that VHS1256b is most consistent with equatorial viewing geometry. The HST/G141+Spitzer spectral energy distribution favors a Tef f of 1000 K, low surface gravity model with disequilibrium chemistry. The spectral variability of VHS1256b is consistent with predictions from partly cloudy models, suggesting heterogeneous clouds are the dominant source of the observed modulations. We find evidence at the 3.3σ level for amplitude variations within the 1.67μm CH4 band, which is the first such detection for a variable L-dwarf. We compare the HST/G141 time-resolved spectra of three red L-dwarfs with high-amplitude near-infrared rotational modulations and find that although their time-averaged spectra are similar, their spectroscopic variabilities exhibit notable differences. This diversity reinforces the advantage of time-resolved spectroscopic observations for understanding the atmospheres of brown dwarfs and directly-imaged exoplanets.
|Original language||English (US)|
|State||Published - Apr 10 2020|
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